An economy that works for the People and the Planet.

The European Semester Autumn Package

A new European Semester cycle was launched on December 17th, 2019 by the von der Leyen Commission. This will be the first cycle of the mandate that will present an ambitious rebooted growth strategy. The strategy will focus on promoting competitive sustainability that will build an economy that works for the people and the planet.

The vision of President Ursula von der Leyen that can be found in the Political Guidelines is being delivered by the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy.  The economic and employment policy strategy of the EU is placing sustainability and social inclusion in the very heart of the EU’s economic policymaking along with the priorities that have been set under the European Green Deal.

With this strategy, the European Commission aims at maintaining Europe’s position as the leader of the world’s most advanced welfare system and become the first climate-neutral continent and a vibrant hub for innovation and competitive entrepreneurship. That way Europe will have the tools needed to fight for social fairness and prosperity.

More broadly, the sustainable growth strategy will help the EU and its Member States achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which the Commission is integrating into the European Semester for the first time.

A profound transformation of our economic model is underway. Climate change, digitalization, and changing demographics require us to adapt our economic policy so that Europe remains a competitive force on the world stage and does so in a way that’s sustainable and fair. At the same time, we need EU countries to strengthen their defenses against the global risks on the horizon. I invite countries with fiscal space to further boost investment and those with a high level of debt to bring it down.”    

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for An Economy that Works for People

“Starting today, we place the climate transition at the heart of our economic governance. Because when we say the European Green Deal is Europe’s new growth strategy, we mean it. One of my top priorities in the first year of my mandate will be to integrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into the European Semester. It is vital that we make a success of this important change to European economic policymaking.”

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy

“The new strategy integrates the principles of fighting inequalities and the pursuit of upward economic and social convergence enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights. The number of people in work today is at a record high, but disparities persist. In a fast-changing world and an economy where innovation is key, we have to facilitate better access to the labor market and invest more in skills for those who need to adapt to the digital and green transition, especially the most vulnerable. Social fairness must be integral to every part of this new workstream.”

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights

The long-term strategies that are being addressed through the Annual Sustainability Growth Strategy are being supported by the four dimensions that the strategy is based on. These dimensions are helping to guide structural reforms, various employment policies, instruments, and responsibilities that Members states need to follow to deliver an economy that works for people and the planet.

Here are the four dimensions:

  •   environmental sustainability;
  •   productivity gains;
  •   fairness; and
  •   macroeconomic stability.

In regards to the European Semester, more focus is going to be placed on environmental sustainability through specific guidance that will be provided to the Member States on which structural reforms and investments towards a sustainable economy are most needed.

Some of the European Semester’s aims are:

  • Promoting investment and structural reforms to foster research  and innovation
  • Improve access to finances
  • Enhance the functioning of product and service markets
  • Remove bottlenecks in the business environment

Next steps

The European Council is invited to endorse the sustainable growth strategy presented today.

Member States should take account of the priorities identified by the Commission in its sustainable growth strategy in their national policies and strategies, as set out in their Stability or Convergence Programmes and their National Reform Programmes which they will submit next year. On that basis, the Commission will propose Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) as part of the European Semester Spring Package. The CSRs will be adopted by the Member States in the Council. Member States are thus ultimately responsible for their content and implementation.

President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines emphasized the importance of the European Parliament has a “louder voice” in economic governance. To this end, the Commission looks forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with the Parliament on the contents of this package and each subsequent step in the European Semester cycle.

For more information, you can visit the European Union’s official page on the European Semester Autumn Package.

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Thodoris Alexandrou
Financial Officer